Research                          .

Facilities          .


Fear effects in the brain

Current models of fear are based on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in humans. We are extending these models to understand neurobiological effects of predator fear on wild animals with experiments simulating acute and chronic predation risk and quantifying the effects in brain regions implicated in mammalian and avian fear networks. We are incorporating this new information into the biomedical model of fear and the field of predator-prey ecology.

Fear effects on demography

Using experimental field manipulations, we have demonstrated that fear alone can reduce reproduction and is powerful enough to affect wildlife population dynamics. We are now investigating the effects of fear on juvenile survival, dispersal, and adult survival to experimentally reveal the complete effects of fear on wildlife population dynamics at my long-term study sites in British Columbia’s Gulf Islands.

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Fear of large carnivores

The fear large carnivores inspire, independent of their direct killing of prey, may itself cause cascading effects down food webs potentially critical for conserving ecosystem function, particularly by affecting large herbivores and mesocarnivores. By experimentally restoring the fear of large carnivores where most have been extirpated, we are determining the effects of and developing methods for ameliorating the impacts from their loss. Our results reinforce the need to conserve large carnivores given the significant ‘‘ecosystem service’’ the fear of them provides.

Fear of the human "super-predator"

Much of the world now consists of human-dominated landscapes, yet there has been little research regarding how humans affect trophic networks through behavioural responses. We have shown that humans can be far more frightening than any other predator and alter the ecological role of carnivores. Human disturbance may have widespread ecological effects on many species by altering feeding behaviour and resulting in human-induced trophic cascades.



Advanced Facility for Avian Research

AFAR is home to the world’s first hypobaric climatic wind tunnel for bird flight - allowing research into the physiology and fluid dynamics of bird flight in high altitude conditions.  In combination with specialized indoor and outdoor holding rooms and cutting edge experimental and analytical facilities, AFAR is a leading centre for the study of avian neurobiology, physiology and behaviour.



Environmental Sciences Western Field Station

Environmental Sciences Western is a Faculty of Science field station located approximately 14 km north of the main Western campus.  It is used for inter and multidisciplinary research by faculty in the Departments of Biology, Physics and Astronomy and Geology, along with researchers from the Faculty of Engineering and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.



17' Zodiac Pro 12

Our Gulf Island study sites are all boat access. Our primary vessel is a 90 hp 17' fibreglass hull Zodiac, capable of carrying equipment and crew to distant field sites. We also have two smaller 11' zodiacs for work on and around nearer islands.


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